by Eva Dean Folkert
For the second consecutive year, Hope College golfer Josh Gibson has been selected as the winner of the NCAA Division III Jack Nicklaus National Player of the Year Award.
Also a 2018 honoree, the senior from Grandville, Michigan is the first repeat Division III recipient and the seventh two-time honoree in the award's history. He will receive the honor from namesake, Jack Nicklaus, on Sunday, June 2 during the final round of the PGA Tour's Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio.
Nicklaus, a Big Ten and NCAA Champion at The Ohio State University, helped inspire and create the Jack Nicklaus Award in 1988. It is now presented to the National Player of the Year in NCAA Divisions I, II and III, as well as NAIA and National Junior College Athletic Association.
"I'm really honored and excited," Gibson said. "Obviously to get to go meet Jack Nicklaus again is an awesome opportunity. I'm just going to really enjoy that experience again. Plus, I'll get to meet a couple more cool golfers whom I haven't met or played golf with before. That will be fun, too."
In addition to receiving the Jack Nicklaus National Player of the Year Award, Gibson will compete in the Barbasol Shootout on Saturday, June 1 for an exemption into the PGA TOUR's Barbasol Championship, held July 18-22, at the Champions at Keene Trace in Lexington, Kentucky, one of the courses he just competed on at the NCAA Division III National Championship.
Gibson will join fellow Jack Nicklaus Player of the Year honorees — Matthew Wolff of Oklahoma State, Barry University's Jorge Garcia, Coastal Georgia's Mark David Johnson, and Midland College's Callum Bruce — in the 18-hole shootout. The event will be held at The Ohio State University Golf Club's Scarlet Course in Columbus, Ohio — the same club where Nicklaus played his collegiate golf for the Buckeyes.
"It'll be fun to play that course," Gibson said. "It's a really great track."
Gibson averaged 71.0 strokes per round during 2018-19 while leading the Flying Dutchmen to regular-season and MIAA Tournament titles. At the 2019 NCAA Division III Championships, Gibson finished as the national runner-up while the Flying Dutchmen finished in ninth place as a team, their third year in-a-row in the top 10. During his career, Gibson was the individual NCAA Division III national champion as a sophomore and he finished 10th individually as a junior.
Also during the 2018-19 year, Gibson never fell out of the top 10 in any tournament or single-round match he played. In his 24 rounds, he shot at or below par 17 times, with a lowest round of 65 at Trine University's Zollner Golf Club. Gibson also repeated as the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association's Most Valuable Golfer for the third consecutive time, a league first.
Head coach Scott Lokers is thrilled Gibson has been chosen as this year's Jack Nicklaus Player of the Year for Division III.
"Last year, when Josh won the Nicklaus Award and some of us were there to witness his receiving the award from Jack Nicklaus himself, we commented that this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience," Lokers said. "Well, now we know that with Josh, it is actually a twice in a lifetime experience. What an incredible honor for Josh and his family. I am so happy for him."
"There is no question that Josh is simply the best player we have ever had in the program, and he deserves to be remembered that way," Lokers added. "More importantly, I am confident Josh will be remembered as a young man with outstanding character. Josh loves Jesus, his family, his teammates, and Hope College."